Mechanical cutting uses reapers (machine that cuts and gathers). Reapers are either hand-driven or mounted on the front of a tractor. While the use of reapers has not been widespread, it is gaining popularity where labor shortages have occurred.
Most reapers lay the crop in a windrow, which allows easy pick-up of the harvested crop. A reaper with a cutting-width of 1.5 m can operate at a rate of 2−4 ha per day.
To efficiently use reapers, fields need to be leveled and water drained at least 10−20 days before harvest.
- Advantages: Low labor requirements
- Disadvantages: Difficult to reap lodged crop; Availability of machine may be an issue